The NFL playoff race shifts into high gear with key divisional battles in Week 16. Covers checks in on opening odds and early action for four Week 16 games, with insights from John Murray, director of The SuperBook at Westgate in Las Vegas.
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles (+2.5)
Someone’s gotta win the NFC East, and this is the game that will likely decide who that someone is. Dallas put a three-game SU slide in the rearview mirror while climbing back to .500 in Week 15. The Cowboys (7-7 SU, 8-6 ATS) battered the Los Angeles Rams 44-21 as 1-point home underdogs.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia had to scrap and scrounge at three-win Washington, but also found its way back to .500. The Eagles (7-7 SU, 5-9 ATS) got a touchdown with 26 seconds remaining to take a 31-27 lead, then got a scoop-and-score on the final play of the game. That play killed ‘Skins bettors as Philly won 37-27 giving 10 points. It was the only moment all game that the Eagles were covering.
“Everyone will be on Dallas after its performance in the win over the Rams,” Murray said. “The Eagles escaped two weeks in a row against the awful Giants and Redskins. They will need to really up their game to beat Dallas here.”
Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots (-7)
In the offseason, not many would have pegged Buffalo as having a chance to tie for the AFC East lead in Week 16, but that’s most certainly the case. The Bills (10-4 SU, 9-4-1 ATS) bested Pittsburgh 17-10 as 1-point road underdogs in the Sunday nighter and now have the best spread-covering mark in the league.
Defending Super Bowl champ New England halted a two-game SU and three-game ATS skid. The Patriots (11-3 SU, 8-6 ATS) played a lackluster first half at Cincinnati, taking a 13-10 lead just before the break, but went on to a 34-13 victory laying 10.5 points.
“Both teams are now in the playoffs but have playoff positioning to fight for,” Murray said of motivations for this Saturday showdown. “The Patriots’ offense couldn’t do anything in their first meeting, and it doesn’t seem like much has changed for them on that side of the ball. We will be flooded with teasers and parlays of Patriots to 49ers.”
Per SuperBook policy, this game came off the board before the Bills-Steelers kickoff and will repost Monday morning.
Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers (-6.5)
San Francisco learned how quickly fates can change at this stage of the year, dropping from the NFC’s No. 1 seed to No. 5 on Sunday. The 49ers (11-3 SU, 8-5-1 ATS), coming off a great win at New Orleans, suffered a stunning home loss to Atlanta, 29-22 as healthy 10.5-point favorites.
In a crazy finish, the Niners allowed a TD with two seconds left to fall behind 23-22, then gave up a scoop-and-score while lateraling around on the ensuing kickoff to account for the final score. Which, oh by the way, made Over bettors delirious and Under bettors sick, with a total of 50.
Defending NFC champ Los Angeles did itself more harm than San Fran in Week 15, further wrenching its playoff hopes. The Rams went to Dallas as 1-point favorites and got boatraced 44-21, halting a 3-1 SU and ATS upswing. Sean McVay’s squad is still No. 7 in the NFC, but is two games out in the win column to current wild cards Minnesota and San Francisco.
“San Francisco is really banged up right now and just fell out of first place with a loss to the Falcons,” Murray said. “They need this game to stay in the hunt for a first-round bye. The book will want the Rams outright.”
This is another Saturday matchup, in prime time with an 8:15 p.m. ET kickoff.
Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings (-4.5)
Green Bay will look to remain solo first in the NFC North in the final Monday night game of the season. In Week 15, the Packers (11-3 SU, 9-5 ATS) beat Chicago 21-13 giving 4 points at frigid Lambeau Field, where the current No. 2 seed hopes to spend some time in January.
However, Minnesota can tie its division rival with a victory in this prime-time contest. The Vikings (10-4 SU, 8-6 ATS) went off as 1-point road favorites against the Los Angeles Chargers and coasted to a 39-10 victory Sunday.
“The Packers really struggled on offense in their win over the Bears. They’ll need to be much better to beat Minnesota here,” Murray said. “The winner will likely take the division, and the loser will have to go on the road for three rounds in the postseason to get to the Super Bowl.”
Patrick Everson is a Las Vegas-based senior writer for Covers.com. Follow him on Twitter: @Covers_Vegas.